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Walt Disney World II (Vacation Dining)

29 May

A return to Disney had me wanting to try new places. I’ve dined many times at the casual dining restaurants or kiosks within the parks and I was ready to continue my ventures outside of the parks. After all, hubs and I were having a great casual vacation so some great food would make it even better. We were able to dine a few different areas over the course of the couple of days we were there prior and post cruise. Here is a recap:

Trail’s End (Fort Wilderness Campground)

Over at Disney Food Blog’s new(ish) podcast, episode one discusses ‘jaunts’. Quick trips that you can access from the parks, thus getting a break from the crowds and the heat, plus getting something other than chicken tenders and hamburgers. A quick boat ride to the Fort Wilderness Campground had us at Trail’s End. The restaurant wasn’t busy at all and we were quickly seated. Hubs ordered a pulled pork sandwich, which has a surprisingly tangy barbecue sauce which I really enjoyed (yup, I steal bites on vacation too). There was a corn bacon slaw on top, but really, the taste of bacon was lacking though the sandwich overall was great. I had ordered an ‘open faced Johnny Cake BLT’ with a side of sweet potato fries despite looking forward to the fried chicken. But, I didn’t regret it at all once I took a bite. A corn based pancake topped with bacon, arugula and tomatoes. There was a peppery mayonnaise on top too – and when all those flavors combined, all I can say is wow. It was something I would have never imagined eating at The World and was beyond tasty. Beats a burger at a stand anytime surrounded by a crowd. Highly recommend – though I do hear their chicken is great, as is their breakfast buffet.

Kona Cafe (Polynesian Resort)

The Polynesian Resort is beautiful, full of lush florals and vegetation in the lobby. Honestly, I haven’t been to Hawaii but it is everything that I imagine it to be. So when we sat down at Kona Cafe for lunch, I wasn’t surprised to see all of the great Polynesian food, and I wanted to get my hands on all of it. Hubs settled on barbecue pork tacos. Visually, I was surprised to see the homemade tortillas be so thick. But, it was still a great taco and hubs gobbled them up. I ordered the Ahi tuna sandwich. I absolutely loved the sweetness of the pineapple bread the sandwich was served on. The tuna was thick and seasoned well, but cooked a little bit more than I would have liked. But the pickled vegetable slaw and bread made that sandwich very good. The sweetness of the bread played really well with the vinegar of the slaw, though it did kill the overall flavoring of the fish. And of course, sweet potato fries were great as always.

Whispering Canyon Cafe (The Wilderness Lodge)

Before heading home, we ducked into The Wilderness Lodge for a bite to eat. We decided to eat a few appetizers between each other, though there is an all you can eat type of barbecue lunch that looked appetizing (and what they are known for). We started off with queso and chips, which was nothing too fancy. Though small and minor, I did like the fact the chips were sprinkled with tomatoes and green onions. No idea why, I normally don’t go for that flair, but alas, I liked the extra nudge that pushed it towards nacho type. I had a salad, which was dressed in a really light apple vinaigrette. I mainly ordered it because of the candied walnuts. It was much bigger than I anticipated, but there wasn’t anything too special about it. Hubs ordered the smoked salmon, which he thought was a little dry and anticlimactic. Though all of this was okay and standard, I couldn’t get enough of the cheddar cheese soup. It was creamy, decadent and so tasty. I absolutely loved the sharpness of the cheddar. And to make it even better, popcorn and bacon. Candied bacon gave it a slightly sweet bite through the sharpness, while the popcorn was just fun. I loved it. I ate it so fast, maybe that’s why I didn’t enjoy the other bites because I was so focused on that soup. Next time, soup and barbecue.

All of these were great choices for us to try while enjoying the parks. We did eat in the park at one point, but it was in Epcot where I have a little bit more love for due to the country and ethnic drive of the food. Though all of it isn’t spectacular, I still appreciate it a little bit more as there are more options than the other parks (though if you recall, the Animal Kingdom does have a great restaurant). Eating new (and great) food is always an important piece of our vacations – what about you? Anything you look forward to when on vacation?

Krolls West (Green Bay, WI)

28 Dec

A staple in Green Bay, Kroll’s is a restaurant many visitors dine at when visiting. Located across the street from the famous Lambeau Field, Kroll’s is a great place to grab a burger before game time. This past weekend, hubs and I were in Green Bay to visit family for the holidays and made our stop at Kroll’s. There isn’t a visit home that we don’t dine at Kroll’s.

I usually order the same thing, despite many of the menu items being great. But when you only get to dine at a restaurant you love twice or maybe three times a year, you savor every bite of your favorites. So this time around, a cheeseburger with everything except onions and a bowl of chili, spaghetti and cheddar included. The cheeseburger is a thin patty, but it has a great charcoal taste to it from the open flame that they use. The ketchup (maybe catsup) is always warm and the melted butter is dripping from every bite. Classic yellow mustard gives you a slight tang while the pickle crunch gives you that added texture. Your fingers will be shining with the butter, but it doesn’t matter, it’s that good. And the buns are also toasted. If you are lucky, you may get a toasted bite of cheese on the bun, like a mini toasted cheese sandwich – delish. A perfect vehicle for this memorable burger. They make a mean toasted cheese sandwich too.

And the chili – I love this chili. It is greasy, clearly from sight. But there isn’t a greasy taste to it. Just a meaty, subtly spicy glow. The meat is fine, but the chili still has a substance despite it being ground. There isn’t much to it, but it is divine. And an optional addition, spaghetti and cheddar, always compliment this bowl of chili for me.

It may not look pretty, wrapped in paper and presented by rotating servers. You order with a call button on the wall and get small glasses of water to sip on while you wait. And I love it all. There is something about Kroll’s. It may remind me of grade school dances and meeting up with friends after, or of grabbing a quick bite to eat with my mom when shopping. The food is good. It is solid. There is something special about this place that will always have me returning and out of town guests wanting to grab a burger or cheese curds.

Kroll’s West * 1990 S. Ridge Road * Green Bay, WI * 920.497.1111

Krolls West on Urbanspoon

Cracked Egg (Las Vegas)

14 Dec

Among all the lights of Vegas, there are many celebrity chefs. As much as hubs and I wanted to check out these restaurants, breakfast didn’t seem to be a big item on the strip of these restaurants. We had one great breakfast in Henderson, and we were ready for another. After asking a few people on the property and reading a few reviews, we ended up at The Cracked Egg which was only a block from our hotel.

The place was packed on the Saturday morning, so I assumed this was a good thing. We only had to wait about 15 minutes before being escorted to a booth in the back corner of the restaurant. It was the perfect view of the restaurant and kitchen – my favorite seat in the house. The restaurant is pretty bare, nothing too exciting in decor. It is pretty big too, but all the tables were full with more people waiting. Despite the busy atmosphere, the service was still quick and we were greeted quickly.

After looking over the menu and having hot coffee brought quickly to us, we placed our order. Hubs settled on the special of the day: chili verde breakfast burrito. He loves breakfast burritos, so it didn’t take him long to decide. A flour tortilla had seasoned pork, scrambled egg and chili verde wrapped up tight. Over the top was melted jack cheese and sour cream. I had a quick bite and it was everything I thought it would be. A slight spice from the pork cut by the creamy cheese, it was a good solid breakfast. Hubs liked it ‘very much’ as he ate it all, not leaving a drip of queso unturned.

I debated a bit, but landed on the sweet potato skillet. I was a little worried about the sweetness factor, but ordered it anyway. Just like a thought, it was subtly sweet, but not in an overwhelming way. The potatoes had been slightly fried and cooked with bacon pieces, grilled onions and the best part, green apples. They had a perfect tart flavor to the sweetness of the caramelized onions. The bacon was slightly smokey and salty, best thing ever for the apples and melted muenster cheese on top. Two perfectly poached eggs adorned the top (these are cooked to order – I’m a sucker for poached eggs) so when you cut into them, the rich and creamy yolk spilled over the hash skillet. It was definitely more food than I needed, but every bit was delicious. It was easy to have all the components in every bite too; no ingredient overpowered any of the others. I would highly recommend this to any sweet potato lover who is looking to mix a bit of savory into their morning meal.

Another great thing was the coffee cake. With the skillet, I had the option of coffee cake or toast. I was surprised as coffee cake is a small cry from an average breakfast side. The flavor of the coffee cake does change daily, so the server wasn’t quite sure what kind it was. He had thought pumpkin. With me being the pumpkin fan, I’m always game. However, it was cherry. I slightly sighed as I’m not a huge cherry fan (and I was so sad it wasn’t pumpkin), but I quickly revoked the disappointed sigh for one of pure happiness. This coffee cake was phenomenal. It was tender and soft with a subtle crunch on top. The cherries were plump and swirled in on the bottom of the cake. If you don’t have time to stop for a full breakfast, the least you can do is order a piece of coffee cake and cup of coffee.

The Cracked Egg may not look like much in the strip mall, or even when you walk in with the slightly bare walls. Service was friendly and timely, always filling up the coffee without any prompting. Price was reasonable, not cheap but not expensive; without tip it was approximately $25. The food was good, solid and delicious. We were happy to have stumbled on this place.

The Cracked Egg * 1000 N. Green Valley Parkway #480 * Henderson, NV * 702.868.5505

<a href=”http://www.urbanspoon.com/r/18/1412715/restaurant/Las-Vegas/Cracked-Egg-Henderson”><img alt=”Cracked Egg on Urbanspoon” src=”http://www.urbanspoon.com/b/link/1412715/minilink.gif&#8221; style=”border:none;width:130px;height:36px” /></a>

Hash House a Go Go (Las Vegas)

12 Dec

Normally, when I travel, I like to research where to eat. On a recent trip to Vegas, the restaurants are overwhelming on the strip. But I was looking for something different, something not on the strip since hubs and I weren’t staying on the strip. I was really focused on breakfast too, and everywhere I looked, Hash House a Go Go was recommended. Though there is a location on the strip, there are several off. Hubs and I ended up driving to M hotel for breakfast around 10am.

Walking through the casino, I was anticipating a wait from everything I read, but what I assume is due to a location, we didn’t have any wait. We ended up walking right in and grabbing a spacious booth for the two of us. I’m wondering what the decor would be if outside of a casino, but I’m not complaining by any means. It was clean and modern, but with a farm twist. Framed photos on the wall were images of tractors, corn fields, etc. Hash House has a mantra of twisted farm food, and by the decor, it was already where I imagined it to be.

I began with a s’mores mocha while hubs enjoyed canned PBR for $1.75. He was pretty excited about it, and I was looking forward to drinking a s’more. What I got, though extremely messy, was a beautifully presented cup of chocolate. Though the mocha itself wasn’t anything special, the toppings is what made this a unique drink. I immediately ate the two graham cracker pieces by dipping them in the fluff topping that was covered in chocolate syrup. They had already begun getting soft from sitting in the liquid which is why I tackled all of them rather than enjoying throughout the cup. Rather than drinking the mocha, I continued to eat it with a spoon. Entirely too difficult to pick up and avoid having your hands covered in chocolate, this really was all about presentation. Don’t get me wrong, I would order it again in a heartbeat, but it would be for the toppings, not the mocha.

Though hash is in the name, neither hubs or myself ordered hash. We both settled on a Benedict. And as I type this, I ask you immediately disregard the basic idea of a Benedict. There is no hollandaise, no poached eggs, definitely no Canadian ham and you can kiss those English muffins goodbye. This was so much more – a perfectly twisted version of farm food and entirely fresh in all angles.

I settled on a Man vs. Food favorite – the sage fried chicken Benedict. Soon to be known as the best breakfast I have ever had. I have a hard time wrapping my head around the meal – there was so much to it and it all was perfect together. The plate was piled with mashed potatoes. Not just any mashed potatoes, as these were crunchy but creamy all at the same time. A subtle flavoring of butter and cream with a crisp edge on the potatoes. I began eating forkfuls of it, but stopped myself as there was so much more I had to get to. A warm biscuit was split and layered on top of the potatoes. It was warm, buttery and freshly made; a perfect flour taste that you would expect off the farm. On top of the biscuits was the chicken. Crispy, fried chicken, bursting with flavor of sage, rosemary and other seasonings. You could see the sage in the extremely crispy shell, the shell which locked in all the moisture of the chicken. I could have easily just had this chicken (they do offer chicken and waffles, which I debated between). This perfect piece of fried deliciousness was covered in melted mozzarella and strips of smoked bacon. Though salt could have been overwhelming, it wasn’t by any means. Covering all of this was a slightly spicy chipotle cream sauce. The only thing making me feel not entirely bad about consuming all this great food was the spinach and tomato that were also on top of the mountain of food. Oh, and there were eggs, though they weren’t the star of the dish by any means. At first, I even thought they forgot the eggs, but there was maybe one scrambled egg under the layer of cream and mozzarella. Though I thought they forgot it, I wouldn’t have missed it because there were so many other flavors. Everything was seasoned perfectly, and each flavor stood out and brought the whole dish together. Amazing.

Hubs ordered the pork tenderloin version, which was just as delicious. He never orders pork tenderloins, so I was happy to take a bite and compare to the others I have eaten. The tenderloin was hand breaded and fried, perfectly pounded to the best thickness I could imagine. Consistent in texture and thickness, the flavors too were spot on. Perfectly seasoned, it was on top of a bed of potatoes and biscuits, covered with a scrambled egg (once again, the only thing that was actually portioned), tomato and spinach. The cream sauce was present, but so was a tangy barbecue sauce, almost teriyaki like in flavor. His was more savory, mine a bit more spicy, but equally delicious. A good tribute to an Indiana favorite.

This is hands down the best breakfast I’ve ever had. Small portions are not understood at this restaurant by any means, but that is part of the Hash House appeal. Though I would encourage anyone to split an entree (even three people may be able to split), it would sadden me not to be able to keep on trying all the items on the menu. This is one amazing breakfast, and I’m sure lunch and dinner are no different. The service and atmosphere matched – absolutely no complaints about this meal. I can’t wait to get back.

Hash House a Go Go * 12300 Las Vegas Blvd. * Henderson, NV * 702.797.1500

Hash House A Go Go (M Resort) on Urbanspoon